It’s Like Asking Out the Quarterback, Who’s Dating the Head Cheerleader

**Focus your eyes here–stop looking at Chris. Okay, now that you’ve watched him sixteen times, I have a HUGE, IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT –This post is little analogy that came to me. I’m not complaining and I don’t want anyone to think I’m falling apart over here or anything. Okay, commence the fun.**

This is what I mean… Back to the fun. SMILE. I am.

Deep breath. This is a long-ish analogy.

In December, I  queried FOR THE LOVE for the first time. Before I did that, though I had to write a query letter. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I reworked my query. I have friends who can’t put a number on it, either. {They’ve earned a place in heaven, for it, too.}

My best guess would probably be about 50, over the span of two years. TWO YEARS. Hi, 2013.

I sent out four queries that month. That’s not a lot, I know , but it was a super busy time of year and several of the agents I wanted to query, were closed to them over the holidays. Out of those four, I received two, personal rejections in less than 24 hours. I was shocked, delighted, bummed–all at the same time. In some ways, that first rejection email is a right of passage, and I was thrilled to have it. It meant I was on the path; I’m putting myself out there. Knowing the process is completely subjective, I didn’t sweat or cry and continued on my merry way.

(I’ve never heard from the other two, but again, that’s not uncommon.)

After those personalized, kind rejections I wanted to email them back and say, “thanks for saying no so nicely.” But I resisted.

Peggy Eddleman jumped on board when I asked for her help in reworking my query. Peggy and I met at a writing retreat in November, and because she’s so gracious and awesome and kind, and knew who I was, she said yes. Though I swear, at the next retreat, I’m not going to write as much, and spend a little more time conversing with those at the party. The main reason I asked her was because she’s teaching  on the art of query letters at the upcoming 2015 LDStorymakers Conference. Thing is, I needed to glean from her wisdom right away, too impatient to wait until May.

I reworked the query with Peggy’s help, and bounced the query off others before sending it out again.

Since then, I’ve had two more responses that have left me feeling two very different things.

The first is exciting. I queried an agent on Wednesday night, just before going to work out. On Thursday, less than 24 hours later, he emailed me, requesting for my first three chapters. Oh, I wish you could have been a fly on the wall to see my face and reaction. However, my friend Serene is the only witness I have. I was all panic, joy, panic, squealing, clapping, candy-stuffing-my-mouth, phone calling my husband. Yeah. Then, more panic, and cold sweats, because along with the request, I was asked to provide a synopsis.

My heart stopped as I iced over. I didn’t have a synopsis. (To clarify, I do now, though!)

It should be said, that I have the most supportive husband, and God was indeed aware this was going to happen to me, because the chips fell into place quickly.

Backing up a bit here–Two weeks prior to that Thursday afternoon email, I had planned our family’s meals. We go out to dinner, once a month, and would you know it? I had scheduled our family night out for that night. Knowing I didn’t need to prepare any food, I got to work on a query right away, slipped away for dinner at 5, and then returned to the project. Hours later, I finally crashed at 3 a.m. I will forever be grateful to James and Serene for staying up late with me, and for Sheree and Daniel for looking at it first thing in the morning. Their insight, help, and encouragement was exactly what I needed to complete such a daunting task.

Nearly two years to write a query.
One night to write a one page and a four page synopsis.
*wipes brow.* I’m sweating just thinking about it.

I send the requested material on Friday afternoon. A whole new waiting game began.

Now, for the other one. Here goes:

It’s like I’m back in high school all over again, I stare and reread and analyze everything the agent says, does, tweets, and posts before I send out the query. Well, at least I try to do all of that the best I can. You see, there is this one agent, who is attractive on a couple of levels. He’s agency reps several authors who make us unpublished writers a little green. Online, he’s funny, and witty, and down right cucumber cool. Even his bio photo is pretty awesome. I’ve never met him in person, but we were at the same conference, and though I didn’t get a chance to pitch to him, we made eye contact several times. I know. It was serious.

Like I said, BACK IN HIGH SCHOOL, people.

So, I don’t know about you, but I think many of us can relate to the one boy, or girl, who was untouchable in high school. Maybe he was super-duper popular–The Quarterback, perhaps–and you weren’t quite as well, popular. Everybody knows it’s cliche, but inevitable–he’s also dating the head cheerleader. Together, they are the dynamic duo of XYZ High and bleed the school colors. {Code for: This agent reps the author you want to be like.}

Regardless, prom is coming up. And you’re young. YOLO, right? From the depth of your soul, you unearth the courage it’s going to take, to do what you’ve dreamed of doing for as long as you’ve been alive. You strap that courage on, like you’re about to do some serious mountain climbing, because this is either going to be something so stupid, you’ll die. Or it’ll be the most epic moment of your freakin’ high school career: You’re going to ask Mr. PerfectForMe to the prom. {Code for: This agent is accepting queries and likes the genre I write in.}

Now, your friends may doubt you–after all he has a girlfriend and everybody knows it. Or they may cheer you on–because the whole student body knows they break up every Friday night after the game. They’re not really in love. It all depends on your friends. {Code for: Just because this agent reps AuthorFantastic, the agent is still on the look out for someone else to add to their client list.}

On the plus side, Mr. Quarterback knows your name. He’s super kind–always says hi in the hall, holds doors open for the girls, and even picked up your books off the ground at your locker, once. He’s nothing if not a gentleman, which goes well with his cut jaw, his perfect shoulders, and those eyes. Oh, man, those eyes. And let’s not forget, you and he share the same birthday! Yeah, that’s right, baby! God sent him on the perfect day, and with his perfect self, and his mamma is raising him right. We all know it. {Code for: you have a friend who is repped by said agent, or have some other awesome connection.}

Granted, you’re too chicken to ask him to his face. So you know, you have to come up with something “creative” but it has to be clear it’s from you. Your biggest fear is for him to think someone else, someone far cooler, asked him to the dance. {Code for: Querying is your best shot since you can’t attend the same conference the agent is taking pitches at.}

So you heart-attack his locker, or leave a bale of hay on his front porch, or something.

There’s a note involved. It took 43 attempts to get your handwriting just right, but there it is: I’ll have a heart attack if you say “Yes” to going to prom with me. OR maybe you wrote: Hay, wanna kick it at the Fall Festival with me?

Either way, you spent hours laboring and sweating over that note, and it’s go time. {Code for: the query letter is ready, and it’s been through a lot of tweaks and edits, and you’ve checked every letter and period you wrote. It’s time to send it. You’ve composed it, with a nice intro and ending and you’ve pasted the exact number of pages or synopsis alloted.}

And you actually go through with it, because after all, your friends are either doubting you and you can’t handle the peer pressure or they’re the ones cutting out the hearts with you. {Code for: you hit send, panic, sweat, recover, repeat.}

With the message delivered, you wait. Every second of Algebra is torture because, he’s sitting right there. Breathing the same air as you. You know he knows and he knows you know. And you’re waiting for his answer. (Code for: now you wait. The he-knows-you know bit only happens if you get a auto response that confirms your message was delivered.}

And when his answer comes, you can’t decide if you’re going to die or cry, because he is Mr. PerfectForMe, even when he says “no.” And you hate his girlfriend, that much more because of it. She doesn’t appreciate him the way you would.  Hi, Taylor Swift! *if you could see that I’m the one who understands you. Been here all along, so why can’t you see-heee-heee? You belong with me-ee-ee, you belong with me.* {Code for: Taylor Swift gets it. Also, it took double the amount of courage as before to open the email to read the agent’s response.}

His note? Looks like this: You’re so cool to ask me, but I can’t go with you. It’s me, not you. I think you’re super rad, and I hope you find someone great to go to the dance with because I want you to have an awesome time. Peace. {Code for: Agents are human and can be super nice, and what you wrote worked, but didn’t work at the same time, if that makes sense. Yay for personalized rejections! Yay for form rejections that are so nicely writing you would’ve never guess if they’d just slipped your name in there instead of writing “Dear Author.”}

So there. I did it. I asked the Quarterback and he said no, and I’m okay. But why, after such a nice rejections, do I feel completely compelled to email the agents back and say, “Thanks for saying “no” so nice?” Was I expecting cold, heartless rejections? I must have been. Thus far, all three rejections I’ve had so far have been like this–me wanting to thank them for saying no. Am I nuts?

The following are the exact words of the agents that I’m talking about.

Agent One:
I’m sorry to say that I’m not quite the right fit for yours. I do appreciate that you wrote to me and wish you the very best luck finding the ideal agent for your work.

Agent Two:
Hi Gina,
Thanks for all your kind words. I’m glad I could entertain you somewhat during the stressful process of agent hunting. I’m sorry to say that I don’t think I’m the right agent for this project. But it sounds interesting and I hope you find lots of takers. I wish you the very best of luck!

Agent Three:
This business is highly subjective; many people whose work I haven’t connected with have gone on to critical and commercial success.  So, keep after it. I am grateful that you have afforded me this opportunity to find out about you and your project, and wish you the best of success with your current and future creative work.

But, back to high school thinking mode, I’m going to love him even more now, and possibly slip into a slight depression that lasts as long as a Taylor Swift song, and then I’m going to move on.
And then, some day, when I’ve married my Mr. PerfectForMe, who was the student body president of his high school, across the state, I’ll look back at the courage I had in asking that other boy to the dance, and laugh. Knowing I did it once though, sure as heck means I can do it again.
*Off to research another agent.* {Code for: All the hot guys are in college, anyway…}

5 thoughts on “It’s Like Asking Out the Quarterback, Who’s Dating the Head Cheerleader

  1. He he. That’s a pretty good way to describe it. When I was receiving my pile of rejections I started thinking of the quote in Little Women where Amy tells Meg, “You don’t need lots of suitors, you only need one, if he’s the right one.” The fun is in finding the right one.


  2. I agree with Delsheree! Life is to be lived, but why are some things so hard (but exciting)? Do exciting things HAVE to be hard? (I think about that a lot.) Anyway, hang in there. I loved this post!


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